Philippines to China: Get off our turf!

A new development in a long-standing turf war between China and the Philippines. The Philippine government is protesting the Chinese government’s move to place the South China Sea under the jurisdiction of a new Chinese city.

The Montreal Gazette reports that Philippine diplomats, in a bizarrely high-schoolish sort of move, handed Chinese diplomat Ma Keqing a note protesting the proposed Sansha city, which would take control of all disputed territories across the South China Sea:

“China’s Cabinet approved the establishment of Sansha last month to administer three major island groups in the South China Sea and surrounding waters, with the government seat to be based in the Paracel Islands, which Chinese officials call Xisha …

Beijing’s decision contradicted a 2002 nonaggression accord signed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to prevent the territorial disputes from turning violent. There are fears that the disputes could spark Asia’s next major armed conflict.

Chinese officials have said they plan to establish a military presence in Sansha, along with an aquaculture research centre.”

Coincidentally, China’s news agency Xinhua reported that Chinese ships recently ran into some unwanted Vietnamese vessels while patrolling the South China Sea. Another strange coincidence: Vietnam is on board with the Philippines in protesting China’s Sansha city plans. In an article that smacks just a little of propaganda, Xinhua described the Chinese navy’s bold moves:

“Patrolling and conducting surveys in the South China sea, the four China Marine Surveillance ships are here to highlight China’s sovereignty and jurisdiction.

The team recently had an unexpeceted encounter. A Vietnamese ship was trying to pass through Chinese territory at high speed.

Huang Yong, China Marine Surveillance, said, ‘Vietnamese vessel. This is China Marine Surveillance Ship Number 83. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the laws of China, this area of water belongs to China. Do not interfere with our operations. ‘

The command ship faced down the intruding vessel, issuing the warning repeatedly in Chinese, English and Vietnamese. The other three Chinese ships supported it by changing formation. Ten minutes later, the Vietnamese ship dropped its speed and turned around.

It’s just one example of the patrol team’s efforts to protect China’s sovereignty in South China sea.”

What do you think? Is China making moves on the South China sea, or merely protecting its ocean sovereignty?

Read more about China, France, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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